Austin James Wilkerson will not face jail time for sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman on March 15, 2014, judge Patrick Butler announced in Boulder County court on Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Austin, a University of Colorado student, was facing four to 12 years in prison after being convicted of sexual assault, but Butler only handed Wilkerson a two-year “work release” sentence with 20 years to life of probation.
— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 11, 2016
Prosecutors say that Wilkerson “isolated and raped the half-conscious victim” after he remarked to his friends that he was going to take care of the intoxicated 21-year-old Colorado student. The incident happened at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
Austin admitted that he “digitally and orally penetrated” the helpless woman while he “wasn’t getting much of a response from her.” Wilkerson told friends that he “fingered a girl while passed out” and “let his hands wander.” Austin also told officials prior to trial that the encounter started consensually, but that the woman didn’t react while he penetrated her and ejaculated on her stomach.
Austin James Wilkerson also told a university investigator that he had made “repeated advances on the victim, but that she rebuffed him each time” and that he was “pissed off” and that the woman was a “f**king b***h,” according to prosecutors. Wilkerson then changed his story at trial, saying that the woman engaged with him “passionately.”
“This defendant raped a helpless young woman… tried to cover up his crime, and then repeatedly lied about what he did – including under oath,” prosecutors wrote.
Austin’s case sounds awfully familiar to the Brock Turner case in California. Turner was a swimmer at Stanford University who was convicted of multiple felonies, including assault with intent to commit rape, but was only sentenced to six months in prison. The jury determined that Turner had assaulted a woman near a dumpster following a fraternity party, but the judge showed extreme leniency.
In Wilkerson’s case, Butler said that the decision was difficult for him, but he ultimately didn’t feel that throwing Austin in prison was the best course of action.
“I’ve struggled, to be quite frank, with the idea of, ‘Do I put him in prison?'” Butler said, according to the Daily Camera. “I don’t know that there is any great result for anybody. Mr. Wilkerson deserves to be punished, but I think we all need to find out whether he truly can or cannot be rehabilitated.”
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Prior to his sentencing, Austin James Wilkerson finally admitted to what happened.
“I sexually assaulted (the victim) … No words I can say could ever take away the pain and fear that I have caused. Nothing I say can make it better, but I am so sorry,” Austin said.
Wilkerson’s victim also gave a statement to the court prior to sentencing.
“When I’m not having nightmares about the rape, retaliation or a retrial gone awry, I’m having panic attacks,” she said. “Some days I can’t even get out of bed.”
In her plea for a prison sentence, she said, “Have as much mercy for the rapist as he did for me that night.”
Deputy District Attorney Lisa Saccamano doesn’t believe that judges should continue to allowed privileged college students, such as Wilkerson, to avoid serious punishment.
“These young, college-age offenders who perpetrate rape on campus are getting some sort of privileged discount… compared to other violent offenders,” she said in an interview.
Saccamano had hoped that the Turner case would help sway the judge to give Austin a heavy sentence, but that obviously didn’t happen.
“We’re not entirely surprised, but we’re certainly disappointed.”
Austin James Wilkerson will now be allowed to got to school and work during the day and only have to return to a county jail in the evenings while the victim will have to deal with much harsher consequences for the rest of her life.
[Image via University of Colorado/Instagram]